Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Old Town Charleston and Fort Sumter

My mom has been so excited to explore Charleston, and today was her day!  She read a book called South of Broad which is set in Charleston, and fell in love with the city.  We took a narrated bus tour through town and there was so much to see and learn.  It was interesting to note that Southerners do not call it the Civil War.  They call it The War Between The States, as there was nothing civil about it.  If you ever get to Charleston, these are some things you will want to check out:

  •Rainbow Row
  •Law Corner
  •College of Charleston
  •Confederate submarine "Hutley"
  •1886 earthquake
  •Charleston Market
  •Sweetgrass Baskets

The flags at Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter
Original cannon from the Civil War
Following the bus tour, our driver dropped us off at the boat docks so we could catch a ferry to Fort Sumter.  The fort is one of three in the Charleston Harbor.  We only had an hour to explore the fort.  Many things on the fort have changed since 1861, but so much of the original fort is still intact.  The bricks at the fort were made by slaves and many cannons are still in their original stations.  The walls of the fort are shorter now and a concrete bunker was added to the center of the fort in 1899 during the Spanish-American War.  It was very easy for me to imagine Fort Sumter during the Civil War.

I was hoping to purchase a sweetgrass basket but they are not cheap. Sweetgrass baskets are an art form brought to the United States by slaves from West Africa.  During the days of slavery, rice cultivation was flourishing and these baskets were used for winnowing rice.  Men made baskets for agricultural uses out of bulrushes; women made more functional baskets from a softer grass.  The sweetgrass name comes from the pleasant fragrance similar to the smell of fresh hay.  This weaving process is still practiced today and is passed from generation to generation, and connects many to their African culture.

Charleston Market
Sweetgrass baskets for sale

At the market today we could watch women and men weave the baskets. I talked with one woman who learned to weave baskets when she was seven years old and sold her first basket at age 13.  The baskets are made in all shapes and sizes from simple round dishes to large baskets with lids.  The baskets do smell like fresh hay.  One 8" basket took the woman 28 hours to make over nine days and was $145 (too rich for my blood!).

We ate lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., learned all kinds of trivia from the movie, and found out that our waiter is from Kalamazoo!  Evan even got a new t-shirt.

Tomorrow will come soon enough and we will head to Patriots Point to tour the USS Yorktown.  See you then!

Here are tonight's questions (thanks for remembering to send them to my gmail account!):

13.  True or False: Union soldiers fired upon Confederate soldiers at Fort Sumter to begin the War Between the States.  (1 point)

14.  Legends say that slaves and soldiers alike fed this deep-fried cornmeal food to dogs to keep them quiet.  What was the food?  (1 point)

15.  The first Confederate flag had three stripes and seven stars.  What was it called?  (1 point)

16.  Name the first seven states admitted to the Confederate States of America.  (3 points)

17.  What three presidents did Forrest Gump meet?  (1 point)

No comments:

Post a Comment